What Should We Hold On To In Changing Times?
January 24, 2022

What Should We Hold On To In Changing Times?


In The Wake Of The Ever Shifting Youth Culture and Covid-19 Changes: What's Next?

By Rev. Brent Dearnell

This past year I had the privilege to facilitate a small group of youth pastors who were a part of the CMC Youth Ministry Cohort. They gathered once a month committed to growing and helping other leaders grow. This group of youth pastors came from diverse backgrounds and churches that reach distinctly different communities and cultures. They were called together by a desire to best serve the young people in the ministries they lead in the ever shifting youth culture being magnified by the changes caused by the Covid-19 Pandemic. They gathered and walked through a process to help answer the focus question "What's Next?" for them and the ministry. As part of this process they formed a purposefully short list they all agreed are essential for leading young people both today and tomorrow. Below is the list they developed and planned to hold to as they continue to develop the mission and strategy for the ministry with young people they lead.

5 Key Values Essential For Leading Today and Tomorrow:

Biblical Lessons for Life

Leaders need to connect scripture to real life and real life to scripture.

This may seem like an obvious statement but there are times when all of us get into Bible teaching mode and we get excited about the amazing nuances or we teach a particular scripture because it is foundational to our faith. Those are fine practices and have a place in connecting young people to scripture. However, the cohort agreed it is essential for leading young people today and tomorrow to zero in on scripture that directly speaks to what they are facing in their lives. This means doing the work and taking the time to help the young people make the direct connection between these ancient holy texts and their modern day life. In our post Christian era, just because Jesus or the Bible said so may not be enough to have students value the Word.

Read more about this: Aren’t Children, Middle School, High School, And Young Adult Ministries Really All The Same?

360 Degree Discipleship Approach

Leaders need to utilize our time together but also can not let our approach be limited by location or time for students to engage.

Gathering face to face in the church building or in homes is amazing and most of the time is a winning approach. However, young people are busy and all our lives are full. Durning the Covid-19 Pandemic this can be an even harder approach at times. Young people live entire lives outside of the one to two hours a week (or possibly a month) we get to be face to face with them. Our discipleship approach needs to be more vibrant and engaging than these short times we are together. Jesus called the disciples to follow him. To live with and in proximity to Him so they could see how He ate, slept, talked, taught, healed, etc. Jesus knew discipleship was more than the time in the synagogue. We as leaders need a discipleship approach that also connects with young people in ways that are not limited by particular times or locations. This could mean a multitude of things considering the context leaders find themselves. However, I would be remiss if I didn't point out that we live in the digital video driven age. There seems to be low hanging fruit for us as leaders willing to truly engage social media and not just share announcements to the next event.

Read more about this:

Adult Leadership Development

Leaders need to equip both our servant teams as well as parents to invest in students and their relationships with God.

Leaders of young people were never supposed to be a soloist. For those working with young people we have been, are, and will continue to be called to be in harmony with those willing to serve in the ministry alongside of us and the parents (or parent like figure) who already have an invested interest the lives of the young people. When we equip and resource other adults we set up the young people to have more people in their lives able and willing to express their faith in each young person's life both today and long term!

Read more about this:

Claiming Milestones

Leaders need to identify and provide Christ focused experiences to celebrate.

We all want to accomplish something. Whether it is stickers on a sticker chart or belts in Karate there is something encouraging and engaging about having clear next steps in a journey and someone there to celebrate as we hit these milestones. The faith journey young people find themselves on could be just as encouraging and engaging. Our faith journeys do not have to be ambiguous as long as we careful to develop a culture where the milestones do not become the religion. These milestones can be times of invitation to young people and their families. This is also a great practice that shows we are for a particular young person and not just for them attending what we are leading.

Read more about this:

Prioritize Relationships

Leaders need to cultivate a culture where students, leaders, and parents feel they belong, are accepted, are trusted, and can trust.

Ministry with young people helps them answer questions about their identity, where they belong, and their purpose. We need to intentionally develop space and cultures where young people can see they are cared for and connected to leaders, friends, family, the church, and most importantly to God.

Read more about this:

It is my hope that sharing this piece of the process the CMC Youth Ministry Cohort experienced as they wrested with the question "What's Next?" is helpful for you. Helpful for you as you wrestle with "What's Next" in the ministry you lead.

Click Here for a Downloadable Summary of the 5 Key Values Essential For Leading Today and Tomorrow to hang in your office.

By Rev. Brent Dearnell

Brent is married to Sara and is a father to four young children. He has served as a volunteer, interim, and full-time youth pastor, discipleship pastor, and executive pastor. Before going into ministry full-time he was a middle school teacher in an urban environment as well as a varsity soccer coach. He is passionate about helping young people live into their passion, faith, and call. This passion is why he is one of the cofounders of Colocate Ministry Consulting and serves as one of our coaches.


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